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Maxey-Broking: A Post-Debate Evaluation!

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  • Robert Baty
    (Al s reflections on his debate with Broking has many applications to my own disputes with his adversaries and their like-minded fellows, and provides further
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2008
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      (Al's reflections on his debate with Broking has many applications to my own disputes with his adversaries and their like-minded fellows, and provides further insights into just what I have been up against in my efforts-RLBaty)


      REFLECTIONS
      by Al Maxey

      Issue #372 ------- November 1, 2008

      **************************

      Men become susceptible to ideas, not by discussion
      and argument, but by seeing them personified and
      by loving the person who so embodies them.
      Lewis Mumford {1895-1990}

      **************************

      A Post-Debate Evaluation

      Reflecting on My Recent Exchange with
      a Proponent of Legalistic Patternism in
      The Maxey-Broking Debate

      In my estimation, the quotation listed at the top of this issue of my weekly Reflections is one of the most insightful I have ever seen with respect to that which truly tends to legitimize one's ideas. It was made by Lewis Mumford (1895-1990), an American historian and writer specializing in science and technology, and who was especially well-known for his study of cities and urban architecture. Mumford was also a very close personal friend of Frank Lloyd Wright, the renowned architect.

      The substance of this astute statement is that one is much more likely to win another over to their way of thinking by their manner of living than by their manner of argumentation. Someone once wisely observed,

      > "People don't care how much
      > you know, until they know
      > how much you care!"

      Jesus demonstrated this great truth by His actions time and again. Loving the lost is a far more effective evangelistic methodology than lecturing the lost.

      I fear too many of us (myself included) tend to forget this fact far too often in our dealings with those with whom we differ.

      The tragic result is that we frequently end up trying to destroy the very ones we set out to deliver. Oh, how this could be avoided if people could just see our love shining over, under, around and through our logic. Embody your ideas; lovingly live them before others! It will win souls.

      I knew when I made the decision to undertake this debate with those who promote the theology of legalistic patternism that my greatest personal challenge was not going to be refuting this doctrine (that is actually quite easily done).

      My greatest challenge was going to be refraining from descending to the strategies and tactics that characterize the more hardened adherents of this dogma.

      The challenge would be to try and stay focused on the propositions themselves, rather than chase after the countless rabbits that would be unleashed when the opposing side was cornered.

      I attempted to stay focused in this debate with Darrell Broking, but must admit that I was not always successful.

      I did chase some rabbits.

      I also tried to refrain from turning this exchange into a mud-slinging contest, as I knew, from almost four decades of experience with those of this mindset, that this was one of their favorite tactics.

      I was determined not to engage in that.

      But, I didn't always succeed, and I offer my apologies to both the readers and to Darrell for those times I descended to that level.

      One does not have to wallow in the muck in order to defend Truth, no matter how appealing such might be to our lower natures. Truth deserves better from us.

      Within the fascinating disciplines of philosophy and logic (both of which I studied rather extensively at the undergraduate and graduate levels) there is an area known as "Fallacies of Relevance," a prime example of which is the Argumentum ad Hominem -- "the fallacy of attacking the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing a statement or an argument instead of trying to disprove the truth of the statement or the soundness of the argument."

      Such harsh personal attacks are also known as Argumentum ad Personem -- "the statement or argument at issue is dropped from consideration or is ignored, and the locutor's character and circumstances are used to influence opinion."

      Whenever such tactics begin to dominate the "argument" of one side or the other in a debate, it becomes obvious to all that the side in question has either lost sight of the objective or realizes their position is untenable and indefensible.

      Unfortunately, this is an extremely common tactic with those who promote legalism, and many readers of this debate have lamented the fact that it was employed much too frequently by Darrell.

      However, when one can no longer refute another's teaching, the temptation is very strong to go after the teacher.

      A good example of this from the NT writings is Stephen. Some of the Jewish legalists of his day "rose up and argued with Stephen, and yet they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. Thus, they secretly induced men to say, 'We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.' And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him, and they dragged him away" [Acts 6:9-12]. At this point, I would refer the reader to Reflections #61 -- Why Was Stephen Stoned? Sadly, things haven't changed much in almost 2000 years!

      At the same time, I felt it was absolutely imperative in such a debate as this, where Truth was at stake, that I stand firmly and unflinchingly for the cause of freedom in Christ Jesus. Souls are in bondage to the false teaching of legalistic patternism.

      Many are blinded to their condition, others long for liberty but don't know how to find it. The perishing must be rescued, and this effort is not for the faint of heart.

      When you stand on the front lines and do battle with the evil forces arrayed against Truth, you will not come away unscarred.

      The battle will be brutal; it will not be pretty; but it must be waged.

      I have devoted my life to fighting this good fight, just as the apostle Paul did.

      I will not back down, regardless of the cost to me personally (and there are indeed those, even now, who are attempting with all their might to destroy me, my ministry and my reputation).

      Yes, such is not very pleasant, but it is the price of faithfulness to the cause of Christ.

      Therefore, while I will seek to refrain from slinging mud at the enemy, I will NOT refrain from slashing as forcefully as possible at this foe with the Sword of the Spirit.

      Satan and his godless forces are a cunning, crafty enemy; they will try every trick in the book to undermine Truth.

      We must be bold in turning back this darkness.

      Therefore, I do NOT apologize for the strong, unyielding stand I have taken against Darrell and his teaching.

      Both, in my view, are a significant danger to the church of our Lord Jesus Christ.

      I wish Darrell no personal ill, and I pray for his spiritual enlightenment and repentance.

      However, I will not turn a blind eye to his attempts to subvert the Truth

      The apostle Paul spoke of "false brethren" who sought to slither into the midst of God's saints so as to "spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage" [Gal. 2:4].

      Paul did not put up with them for a second.

      Neither will I.

      Paul was also brutally blunt in his dealings with them, and he sought to expose both their teachings and tactics to the light of day so that the saints might be warned.

      I seek to do the same.

      There is an old saying, attributed to the English poet Thomas Gray (1716-1771): "Ignorance is bliss."

      If this be true, then I fear many of my beloved brethren are the most blissful people alive, as they are seemingly oblivious to the nature of the darkness that surrounds them.

      They truly cannot seem to comprehend that men and women professing to be devoted Christians could, in reality, be servants of the devil. And yet, the apostle Paul warns us that Satan's "servants disguise themselves as servants of righteousness" [2 Cor. 11:15].

      Brethren, as much as it pains one to acknowledge the fact, there are those among us who are not of us!!

      And it is by their fruit (their actions and attitudes) that their true nature is revealed.

      I'll be honest with you, brethren -- I chose to engage in this debate, in part, because I knew for a fact that before it was over "character" would become a factor!!

      No matter how well one attempts to cover one's true nature, at some point it always reveals itself for all to see.

      I knew that if given sufficient time and opportunity, the true nature of the legalistic, patternistic mindset would reveal itself.

      And it did.

      One of the interesting things about a public debate is that there are a number of "behind the scenes tactics" that most people never see.

      When one's position is weak, for example, one will often engage in a form of "PsyOps" (various psychological operations developed by the military and designed to throw one's enemy off, enrage them, and thus try to force them into a mistake that could prove deadly on the field of battle).

      In the latter part of this debate this tactic's been employed by Darrell and several of the Contending for the Faith leaders.

      A flurry of emails have been sent back and forth between them (with a CC to Al Maxey for his "edification") in which I've been likened to Adolph Hitler, hiding in a bunker in the desert southwest, surrounded by an army of "jack-booted thugs" (my Reflections readers).

      My fate in hell has been graphically depicted, even to the point of their colorful description of me "hopping from brick to brick" as my soul blazed away in the flames.

      In an email dated October 29, Darrell Broking wrote the following to his CFTF buddies,

      > "Maxey is dug in behind his New
      > Mexican hole in the rock hideaway.

      > I guess that his cyber cheerleaders,
      > real and imagined, are enough to
      > feed his ego and to fuel his error
      > for the major burning to come.

      > What a wake-up call that will be
      > -- to die and actually be in torments.

      > Then he will be a true believer like
      > the rest of the demons in torments."

      That same morning, Daniel Denham wrote to me,

      > "Al, how's it going in the bunker.
      > How's your gang of jack-booted
      > thugs?

      > Keep your head low.

      > Remember the John Kerry motto --

      >> It's best to get the purple
      >> heart heading the other way!"

      On October 27, Michael Hatcher wrote,

      > "I understand at one time Al was
      > in the military. I surely hope our
      > military men have more of a
      > backbone than the spineless
      > cowardly Al, or this nation's
      > military is in more trouble than
      > I thought."

      Darrell Broking laughingly suggested that Al's time in Vietnam was spent hiding and smoking dope!! And on and on it went.

      Brethren, I must give my dear wife Shelly a lot of credit here!! I was very tempted to give these guys a "piece of my mind," but Shelly was my voice of godly reason. She urged me repeatedly NOT to lower myself to that level of ugliness, but to ignore their insults. "They're only trying to bait you into saying something they can use against you."

      I followed her advice, and never responded to those emails. The apostle Peter cautioned the disciples of Christ Jesus never to return evil for evil, or to return insult for insult [1 Peter 3:9]. He further wrote, "Do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled ... keep a good conscience, so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame" [vs. 14, 16]. Our Lord said, "Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you" [Matt. 5:11-12].

      So, why would one even bother to mention these nefarious, malicious tactics of these hardened, legalistic patternists?

      Why not just turn a blind eye and leave them to continue doing what they do?

      Because, my brethren, those who are being misled by their false teaching rarely ever see this side of those who are teaching them.

      And, frankly, that rock needs to be overturned so that the writhing, slithering mass of corruption beneath is exposed to the light.

      As Paul clearly explains, these are "false, deceitful workers disguising themselves as servants of righteousness" [2 Cor. 11:13-15].

      They must be exposed for who and what they truly are, rather than allowed to continue to promote themselves as the representatives of our Lord.

      Jesus described the legalists of His day as "hypocrites" (i.e., pretenders; actors on a stage). "For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you're full of hypocrisy and lawlessness" [Matt. 23:27-28].. "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders" [Matt. 15:19]. "You brood of vipers ... the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart" [Matt. 12:34]. John urges us to "test the spirits" of those who profess to be from God to determine if their claim is genuine [1 John 4:1]. Part of that test, according to verse 5, is whether or not the speech of these men is worldly in nature. A wolf disguised as a sheep may fool the flock for a time, but eventually its true nature will exhibit itself. A good shepherd will never turn a blind eye to that which threatens the flock. "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits" [Matt. 7:15-16].

      One of the more subtle "fruits" of those Paul terms "false brethren" is deceitful scheming.

      Paul was constantly on guard spiritually, "in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes" [2 Cor. 2:11].

      A "scheme," by definition, is "a plot; underhanded intrigue; a carefully devised plan of action for attainment of some goal or object."

      I can assure you, from many decades of experience in dealing with the leaders of legalistic patternism, that if one ever underestimates the force of their scheming, one will find himself very quickly the victim of "the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming" [Eph. 4:14].

      By putting on the full armor of God, we are made "able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil" [Eph. 6:11], as well as the schemes of his servants. "With this in mind, be alert and persevere" [vs. 18].

      As a result of the flurry of emails these bold "contenders for the faith" were sending back and forth to one another (and which they CC'd to me), they inadvertently revealed a scheme that was being hatched to employ Darrell's final post in our debate to further a separate agenda, one that, according to Darrell, had been plotted since this past June.

      I never responded to those emails ... but I did keep them as evidence!!

      Let me give a little background -- eight years ago (April 7 to December 27, 2000) Darrell Broking and I engaged in a fairly lengthy discussion of my book Down, But Not Out.

      That lengthy dialogue can still be read in its entirety online -- Maxey-Broking Discussion.

      Just a few days later, Ron Thomas, a preacher in Illinois, who felt Darrell had not made a good showing in his critical review of my book, asked if I would consider a dialogue with him on several of the points he felt needed to be addressed.

      I agreed, and the result was the Maxey-Thomas Debate (held from January 4 to March 28, 2001).

      Darrell has never been satisfied over the years that my book has been adequately exposed for the "pack of lies" he perceives it to be.

      Apparently he believes he has found a "champion" to expose the "fallacies" of my book -- a preacher in Newport News, Virginia by the name of Daniel Denham..

      In an email dated October 29, Darrell wrote Daniel saying, "last June we discussed the need to expose Maxey for what he is and how that our plans were for me to debate him then for you to follow up with a debate on MDR with the mad hatter of maximum error, the micro-patternist Al Maxey."

      Needless to say, I was totally unaware at that time of this scheme/plan of theirs.

      As my debate with Darrell drew to a close, however, I was repeatedly challenged by both Darrell and Daniel to engage the latter in debate regarding my book.

      I informed them that I had already conducted two debates on the book, and that I felt this was more than sufficient.

      Therefore, I declined the offer.

      Naturally, this did not make them very happy, which has led to the repeated charges that I am "hiding out in a bunker" here in New Mexico, and that I am "terrified" of facing the challenges of Daniel Denham.

      Michael Hatcher wrote Daniel Denham and Darrell on October 29, "We can hear his knees knocking all the way here in Florida because of the yellow streak down his back (he does not have a backbone) resulting in his refusal to sign a proposition for an oral debate on the subject."

      Denham replied on that same date, "All in all, Al's book is a work of fiction and has no real redeeming value. It adds nothing to the serious study of MDR, and exhorts people in the sin of adultery to stay in sin."

      Since it has become increasingly obvious to these men that I'm not about to engage Mr. Denham in debate on this matter, Daniel has declared that he will devote an entire chapter of his upcoming book on MDR to exposing the lies and deceptions of my own book.

      That is fine; he is free to do so.

      In an email dated October 26, Darrell wrote Daniel, "If you would like to send me a small example of how Al lied like this in his Down in the Mouth book, I will be happy to quote it."

      In other words, Darrell is offering to include this information within his final post in the debate. A few hours later Daniel replied to Darrell, "I'll send you a couple of examples tomorrow. Since Al steadfastly refuses to debate me on MDR, then a little dose of what we have gathered on his 'research' needs to be made available to folks through other means."

      Did you notice that phrase that I highlighted?!!

      Here is the plot to employ Darrell's final post in the debate to attack my book.

      This attack is totally unrelated to the two propositions of the debate, but they have seen an opportunity, they believe, to get their attack out to the maximum number of people -- slip it into the final post of the debate when Al Maxey will have no opportunity to defend himself.

      Two days later, on October 28, Darrell wrote Daniel thanking him for the material, saying, "I added about 3.5 pages of what you sent me in an appendix to wet the thirst for your material." The next day, October 29, he wrote, "The appendix just grew by about 3 pages. You may have more material in my 4th negative than I will."

      Did you notice that statement?

      Once again, this has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with our debate on the two propositions dealing with the nature of the NT pattern.

      This is nothing less than a blatant attempt to impose numerous pages of unrelated material for the purpose of whetting the appetites of the readers for Denham's new book in which he will attack mine.

      This is unethical, ungodly and unconscionable. It speaks volumes about the lack of integrity and character of these men. And these men profess to be ministers and elders in the church of Jesus Christ?! Frightening!!

      As if the above appendix was not violation enough, Darrell came to the conclusion shortly before posting his final rebuttal in this debate that an even more extensive appendix needed to be added as well.

      This was equally unrelated to the two propositions of this debate, and, in fact, was written primarily by Daniel Denham, who is not even a participant within this debate.

      Not only is Darrell introducing new material unrelated to the debate, he is actually introducing a new participant.

      The purpose of this second appendix was to attack another preacher in the state of Virginia. This preacher, some time back, sent me an email in which he exposed some of the practices of both Darrell and Daniel.

      I did not share that email with my readers (and still haven't), but instead informed Darrell and Daniel of these accusations (with this other preacher's prior permission) and asked them about them.

      They went ballistic, and Darrell then included 10 pages of emails attacking this poor guy at the end of his third rebuttal (which also was inappropriate, as many readers pointed out). Daniel Denham declared he would prepare a written response to this other preacher, and in an email to Daniel dated the morning of October 31, Darrell wrote, "Daniel, if your reply to Tim is ready, and you would like, we can attach it to this post as an appendix."

      Once again, an effort was being made to use the final post of this debate as a vehicle for attacking another minister who has nothing to do with the debate itself.

      Darrell Broking did indeed carry through with his scheme.

      His final rebuttal post, which appeared the evening of October 31, was 25 pages long (in a Word document). The first six pages pertained to the debate ... the other 19 did not. Appendix A was the attack by Daniel Denham on my book. It was about 6 pages long. Appendix B was the attack upon the other preacher within the state of Virginia. It was about 13 pages long, and was again primarily written by Daniel Denham.

      Neither appendix had any bearing whatsoever upon the two propositions of the debate, and were for the most part not even the work of my debate opponent, but rather the rantings of someone outside the debate with whom Darrell Broking plotted and schemed.

      The goal?

      To use the final post of the debate as a tool for this other man's attack against (1) my book on MDR and (2) another preacher in Virginia against whom they both had some personal vendetta.

      This action taken by Darrell was so egregious that it boggles the mind!! Darrell then sent me an email the morning of October 31 (to which I didn't respond, by the way), following his invitation to Daniel to include his attack against the other preacher.

      Darrell wrote,

      > "Daniel says 'Boo,' so run and hide, Al.

      > I have a sermon that is called 'What
      > Kind of Chicken are You Anyway?"

      > I will have to add a category to include
      > the 'yellow speckled enchanted clucker' > of the New Mexican variety.

      > By the way, Al, feel free to kill us with
      > your kindness.

      > You are such the example of love."

      Perhaps a bit of familiarization with the basic standards governing debate might be in order.

      According to every source I was able to locate, the introduction of new material into the final presentation of a debate is strictly forbidden. "Judges should be especially wary of speakers introducing new arguments at this point since the affirmative team has no chance to respond, thus a new argument is especially unfair.
      The judge should ignore any new arguments that are introduced."

      This is from the set of standards produced by the International Debate Education Association. The same rule exists within the standards of the National Parliamentary Debate Association.

      Therefore, Darrell has violated the basic standards of public debate by providing the new information he did.

      That violation is compounded by the fact that the material introduced had absolutely nothing to do with the propositions being debated.

      This was then further exacerbated by the fact that this was willfully and maliciously done for the purpose of whetting the appetites of the readers for another man's work on another topic in which his debate opponent's work on a separate topic than that of the debate would be attacked.

      It was further done, in the case of the second appendix, in an attempt to try and use this debate as a means of seeking to destroy the ministry of another gospel preacher.

      This is wrong on so many levels it is mind-boggling.

      So, what is to be done?!

      I can't appeal to the "moderator" of the debate, because the moderator of the debate, David Brown, is part of the very bunch exchanging these vicious emails, and is thus clearly in the camp of my debate opponent (which itself is a violation of every standard of debate).

      The solution therefore, as stated in George McCoy Musgrave's work "Competitive Debate: Rules and Techniques" (which has been the standard for many debaters for over half a century), is two-fold: (1) "call the attention of the audience to the situation," and (2) "throw out the arguments in question."

      I have, therefore, done both. I've informed you, the many readers of this debate, of this violation, and I have removed both appendices in question from Darrell's final rebuttal.

      I clearly can't prevent him from including it in his final post to the ContendingFTF Internet group, nor can I prevent David Brown from including it on his congregation's web site (though, if he has any integrity left at all, I would certainly hope he would refrain from doing so).

      Nevertheless, it will not appear at the site (my own web page) where 99% of readers are going to be reading this exchange.

      This will undoubtedly infuriate Darrell, Daniel and their few radical supporters immensely, but ... So Be It.

      These people should have known better than to have tried such a godless tactic! This is NOT an example of how genuine Christians behave ... a fact that I sincerely pray is not lost on the readers of this debate!!

      Additional Reflections

      The six pages of Darrell's final rebuttal (those pages which actually HAD any relevance to the debate itself) are little more than a compilation of 19 points in which Darrell misrepresents my beliefs and teachings so horribly that people who know me will either laugh hysterically in disbelief, or they will wonder if this poor fellow even bothered to read anything I wrote in this debate.

      My wife and I both read it with our jaws on the floor!!

      It is pure nonsense!

      Enough said!

      > So, Al ... was it worth it?! Or, was
      > this whole exchange a colossal
      > waste of time? ... just an exercise
      > in futility and frustration?

      Brethren, let me state emphatically: It was worth every painful minute!!

      Why?

      Because I've received a great number of personal emails, letters and phone calls from all over the world thanking me for exposing this false doctrine, and informing me that, as a result of carefully and prayerfully considering what was said on both sides of this exchange, they were taking immediate steps to break the chains of their bondage and were going to seek out far more grace-centered congregations with which to work and worship Precious souls are at last perceiving the worth of liberty and are discovering freedom in Christ Jesus. They are abandoning their enslavement to LAW, and are now immersing themselves in a GRACE they never knew existed If even one soul had experienced such a transformation ... it would be worth it.. But, there are many writing to tell me they have experienced it.

      Thus, I do not regret a single moment of this debate and thank God He considered me worthy to represent His Truth on this occasion. Eyes have been opened! Prayers have been answered!

      Will anything I have said ever touch the hearts of the hardened leaders of this faction within our movement?

      Only God knows the answer to that.

      I tend to doubt it, but I am not willing to write any man off, and therefore I will continue to try to reach them.

      We know for a fact that some are so hardened that "God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false" [2 Thess 2:11].

      I pray that these men have not reached that point, and I ask that each of you pray for them too. How wonderful it would be to welcome them into the embrace of grace!!

      Some readers delight in basic statistical data, so for those of this mindset let me give the following information. Response times for the two participants in this debate were: Al -- 31 days. Darrell -- 103 days. Total number of words in Al Maxey's eight posts: 66,140. Total number of words in Darrell Broking's eight posts: 61,848 (or, a total of 73,077 if the two deleted appendices are counted). Darrell Broking had the distinction of having both the longest as well as the shortest posts: his fourth affirmative was 20,306 words. His second rebuttal was only 1196 words. Nothing earth-shattering here, but these stats might be of interest to some!

      Also, just by way of general interest: near the very end of the debate Darrell and his family moved from Tennessee to Florida (the Pensacola area, I believe ... I asked him where, but he refused to tell me).

      The gavel has fallen on The Maxey-Broking Debate.

      The readers must now weigh in the balance the information presented by each participant, as well as the character and credibility of each, and make a determination which one of us, if either, most clearly presented the Truth of God's Word, as well as which one of us, if either, best embodied that Truth in their actions and attitudes. There will undoubtedly be strong points and weak points within the presentation of both sides. After all, we are both fallible human beings. Nevertheless, the major differences between the two positions on the nature and scope of God's expectations with regard to both salvation and fellowship should be rather clear to most readers.

      The choice is yours to make.

      May you choose wisely, as much is at stake. God bless you all, and thank you for taking the time to consider this extensive body of information. May it touch your hearts and transform your lives!


      ***************************

      Down, But Not Out
      A Study of Divorce and Remarriage
      in Light of God's Healing Grace
      A 200 page book by Al Maxey
      Publisher: (301) 695-1707
      www.zianet.com/maxey/mdrbook.htm

      ***************************

      Readers' Reflections

      From a Minister/Elder in Wales, Great Britain:


      Brother Maxey, I am a church elder and preacher (70 years old) in North Wales, Great Britain. In the course of preparing a Bible study on the book of Obadiah I came across your web site. Your Study of Obadiah, in your series on the Minor Prophets, proved very helpful -- excellent, even -- and has motivated me today to investigate your web site further. I am absolutely fascinated, and can see that there is going to be hours of reading in the next months!! A quick glance especially at the Maxey-Thrasher Debate on the subject of the eternal destiny of the wicked has been enough to excite me unto further reading! I've already (very secretly) come to hold a non-orthodox position on this subject of "eternal torment in a living death" for the wicked, a doctrine that just doesn't seem to make sense logically or morally, nor does it accord with the God of grace and love. So, I will be fascinated to see what you and Thomas Thrasher have to say on the subject, though I think I know the one with whom I will be agreeing! Thank you for providing this excellent web site, and for keeping to a true Christian spirit of love.

      From a Minister in Tennessee:


      Brother Al, Although I am a Tennessean, I didn't know the story of Silena Moore Holman. Thanks for sharing this moving story about a true leader in the Body of Christ. I wish I'd had the opportunity to meet her and thank her in person for her courage, determination and biblical soundness. Oliver Howard delivered a series of lectures on women and their involvement in church leadership at the Pepperdine Lectureship several years ago. It's worth hearing. As always, my brother, you feed and challenge your readers with insightful writing: well-documented, researched and biblically accurate! Thank you especially for exposing the legalism which has thwarted our movement for decades, and for helping the huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, to see the light of freedom!! Godspeed, my brother!

      From an Elder in Texas:


      Brother Al, At my 83-year-old mother's funeral, the preacher (Charlie Middlebrook of the Impact Church of Christ in Houston) quoted Proverbs 31:31, "Let her works bring her praise at the city gate." He said that we should let this occasion (her funeral) be our version of the city gate, therefore we should give her the praise she deserved. He then led the entire audience in a hearty round of applause for that godly woman (widowed at the age of 36) who raised three children to love the Lord. I had never seen that done at a funeral before, but it was most moving, and I thought it was quite appropriate. It is so unfortunate that one's legalistic mindset keeps one from being blessed in different ways!

      From a Minister in Texas:


      Brother Al, Thank you for your comment on John Waddey's article about "clapping." My mother died of cancer about 30 years ago, and her six children (of which I am one) were glad to clap and rejoice at her wonderful victory. But, of course that was back in the 70's, and this wasn't "an issue" yet. If people like Waddey are going to speak and write, then I would hope that they/we would try to use some general logic and make cogent remarks! That piece by John Waddey on clapping was nothing to applaud, from my perspective. But resurrection ... I can wear out my hands on that. Carry on, brother Al. I hurt with you on some of the empty remarks from some brethren who just cannot seem to remember that we're to be known for LOVING one another!!

      From a Reader in Texas:


      Brother Al, In your last issue of Reflections you have written about one of my personal heroes of faith -- Silena Moore Holman -- and I just wanted to write and tell you how much I appreciated what you had to say. If she had only lived a hundred years later, I believe she would be doing just what you are doing in engaging the patternistic, legalistic side of our fellowship. She was truly well ahead of her time in fighting for gender equality within the church. Those of us who are carrying on that fight are also trying to do it with the grace that she showed. I appreciate you so much, Al. Your wonderful article on Silena Moore Holman will be linked in a day or two to my own web site on Gender Equality in the Churches of Christ. I pray God will continue to bless your ministry.

      From a Minister in California:


      Brother Al, I have not written in quite a while, but the article on Sister Holman was excellent (I've come to expect no less from you). I forwarded it to a close friend of mine who is the great-granddaughter of T. B. Larimore. I think I told you that I had done the funeral service for T. B.'s granddaughter a few years ago out here in California. She had previously stated that she specifically wanted me to preach her funeral service because she knew that I would use proper English (she had been reading my articles for many years), and also because I was a graduate of Mars Hill Bible School in Florence, Alabama (which was originally founded as a college for preachers by Brother Larimore). I'm still a faithful reader, Al, and appreciate so much what you publish, even though I don't comment much these days.

      From a Reader in Texas:


      Brother Al, Excellent study (as usual). Keep up the good work. I couldn't help noting, however, that Lipscomb's comment about the end result of Sister Holman's work --- "If women enter the public sphere, loose marriage, easy divorce, indisposition to bear children, and attendant social impurity will ensue" --- does indeed pretty much tell what has actually come about in our great nation. I doubt that it was because of women getting the vote or speaking out, but what Lipscomb said did happen. Just a thought -- not a criticism of your work or hers!!

      From an Elder in Florida:


      Brother Al, Legalists have to be the most miserable people on the planet -- I know, as I used to be one! Their issue about there being no place for "entertainment" within a "worship service" just goes to show how little they know the Lord Jesus or the holy Word of God. I'm sure glad that heaven is not going to be like the so-called "worship" found in the legalistic congregations of the Churches of Christ. When will these brethren ever figure out that the NT has never outlined a "worship service"? If brethren do not find our times of worship entertaining, then they are in a coma! How can one not be entertained when one is with a group of believers who are singing, praying, communing and listening to God's Word being expounded? Only a legalist would find nothing entertaining in our times of worship. Such is ridiculous and it is foolishness. If they only understood that worship is not like a light switch (you can't turn it on at 10 a.m. and then off at 12 noon), but is rather 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, then they would not get so hung up on all these little tidbits of legalism. But, what are ya gonna do except love 'em and pray for 'em?!! By the way, at our congregation we applaud whenever someone comes back from the dead!! I can't help but be filled with joy and excitement when a lost person becomes a saved person. I just can't control myself. As a matter of fact, after I bring them up out of the water I usually hug them right then and there, and then I join in with my other brethren in applauding. There's just something about the dead being reborn that, to me anyway, warrants such. By the way, great article on Silena Moore Holman. She is truly a model for all.

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